De Beers Sells First Rough From Artisanal Mining Program

SourcingOct 07, 2021

De Beers Sells First Rough From Artisanal Mining Program

GemFair’s goal is to provide artisanal and small-scale miners with a viable, traceable path from mine to market for their diamonds.

De Beers launched GemFair in 2018 with the goal of aiding artisanal and small-scale miners. Today, the program has nearly 200 registered mining sites in the one country in which it operates, Sierra Leone.
London—The first rough diamonds sourced via GemFair, De Beers’ program for the artisanal and small-scale mining sector, have made their way from mine to market.

The parcels of diamonds from the GemFair-registered ASM sites in Sierra Leone were sold via De Beers Group Auctions during its eighth sales cycle of the year last week.

The rough diamonds offered were of “varying qualities and sizes,” De Beers said, with the largest weighing 11 carats. All the gem-quality lots found buyers. 

De Beers launched GemFair in early 2018 with the aim of achieving a goal that had largely proven elusive for the diamond industry—bringing ethically sourced, traceable diamonds from the ASM sector from mine to market. 

To participate, miners must meet baseline ethical sourcing standards, attend formal training sessions, and agree to ongoing monitoring.  

 Related stories will be right here … 

The program started with 14 registered ASM sites in Sierra Leone.

By the end of 2019, the program had expanded to 94 sites in the country with 1,410 workers. It finished last year with 136 sites and 1,995 workers, according to its annual report for 2020.

Today, there are 199 mine sites participating in GemFair employing an estimated 2,800 workers, De Beers said.

De Beers noted GemFair has been purchasing rough diamonds from its workers since its inception in 2018, but it had to address a number of issues before it was able to bring the stones to market.

There was the creation of the GemFair ASM Assurance Program, which is underscored by a set of standards that aim to ensure the diamonds are mined, processed, and transported in a “responsible and legitimate manner.”

De Beers also had to develop a digital traceability solution for GemFair that was both practical—meaning it had to involve tools that are durable, weatherproof, and can function in different light conditions—and risk-mitigating, like digitally supported bag-and-tag equipment and GPS location of diamonds.

And, like nearly every operation in the world, the program ran into delays and issues in 2020, as COVID-19 brought business and travel to a halt. 

Steve Allan, head of GemFair, said last week’s sale of the first diamonds sourced from ASM sites is a “very exciting” milestone for the program and the artisanal miners who are part of it. 

He said diamond buyers and jewelry designers have expressed a lot of interest in GemFair diamonds, and they are going to continue to find ways to bring the story of the diamonds to a wider audience.

“Despite the challenges, we are inspired by the partnerships we have built with the artisanal miners in Kono and look forward to continuing to expand and deepen our impact,” he said. 

The Latest

CollectionsOct 22, 2021
Piece of the Week: Nouvel Heritage’s Mood Necklace

The brand’s signature bangle gets a necklace companion.

CollectionsOct 22, 2021
The Artistry 2022 Catalog Is Out

It’s full of bestsellers to stock up on.

SurveysOct 21, 2021
10 Retailers on Why They Expect the Diamond Boom to Continue

However, their optimistic outlook comes with a hint of caution due to a number of factors out of their collective control.

Brought to you by
Buying a Diamond is More Than Knowing the 4C’s

Buyers may be excited about online diamond deals, but there are uncertainties surrounding the authenticity and clarity of the diamonds.

ColumnistsOct 21, 2021
Squirrel Spotting: It’s a Diamond Moment!

It’s no doubt diamond sales are booming, but why? Peter Smith explores the complicated reasons why consumers want the stones right now.

Weekly QuizOct 22, 2021
This Week's Quiz
Test your knowledge of jewelry news from the week of Oct. 18-22, 2021.
Take the Quiz
IndependentsOct 21, 2021
Quiz: How Closely Have You Been Reading Our Columns?

Brush up on the finer points of customer budgets, recruiting new employees and driving traffic to a new website with this quick test.

TrendsOct 21, 2021
Amanda’s Style File: Prepare to ‘Fall’ in Love

Here are 15 jewels to celebrate the season.

Brought to you by
Viva Italia! Why the JCK Italian Pavilion Was a Sight Worth Seeing at JCK Las Vegas

One of the highlights of the JCK show in Las Vegas has always been the Italian Pavilion, buzzing with excitement and elegance.

CollectionsOct 21, 2021
Contemporary Jewelry Designers to Collect Now

Experts opine on the independent fine jewelry brands with the greatest investment potential.